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Tac Haberdash
Level 4: 395 points
Alltime Score: 1840 points
Last Logged In: December 13th, 2013
TEAM: Societal Laboratorium TEAM: El Lay Zero TEAM: Team Shplank TEAM: LØVE TEAM: SF0 Skypeness! TEAM: N's a Crowd BART Psychogeographical Association Rank 2: Trafficker Humanitarian Crisis Rank 1: Peacekeeper

20 + 109 points

Dérive by Tac Haberdash

July 3rd, 2008 12:03 AM

INSTRUCTIONS: Among the various situationist methods is the dérive [literally: 'drifting'], a technique of transient passage through varied ambiances. In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their usual motives for movement and action, their relations, their work and leisure activities, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there.

One can dérive alone, but all indications are that the most fruitful numerical arrangement consists of several small groups of two or three people who have reached the same awakening of consciousness, since the cross-checking of these different groups' impressions makes it possible to arrive at objective conclusions.

The full text...

Undertake a dérive, and report your objective conclusions to your fellow players.

Good Fences and a Bad Neighbor
Or: How I Found Religion and a Tiny Porcelain Polar Bear

Things have been a bit slow at the agency lately. I've got fewer clients than Jack Thompson, and less to do than Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on the other 364 days of the year. As a result, I've been amusing myself as best I can. So this morning (read: afternoon) I was lying in bed, fully clothed, playing with a collection of multicolored superballs when it hit me. I needed to get out. I leapt out of bed, snatched my hat and camera off the dresser, and went walking.

Out through the back yard.


Which presented a problem, because, you see, my back yard is surrounded by a fence.


I had never before hopped my back fence (successfully).


Once over the fence, I decided to go in the only direction I had never explored. LEFT.


I quickly found myself at a dead end. At least, a dead end for those of us limited to roads. I decided to overcome my desire to follow paths, and walked under a nearby porch and towards the street below.


The proprietors of the house kept some neat junk down there.

I continued down the slope, and leapt off of a wall and into the street, earning a strange look from a man who was taking out his trash. I smiled and waved, then continued my journey.

One of the first things I noticed was a low wall built with layers of bricks, cement, and stone. I wondered what history lead to what was probably a series of additions. Were the neighbors becoming progressively unfriendly? Would there be a 10-foot-tall barrier of steel there in a few months' time? I took advantage of the current situation and vaulted over to the other side.

I came across the window of someone with excellent taste in animated entertainment.

I glanced across the street and saw, with some apprehension, where I was going next.

I didn't want to trespass, but I felt that that was one of my normal motivations talking, and so I climbed onto the roof of the garage without any further hesitation.

I turned and immediately found a path through the underbrush, which led to a shady, secluded hollow.

Beyond the little grotto was a backyard. A backyard with a dog. The yard sloped upwards, invitingly. I knew what I had to do.

One hop, an untold number of barks, and a leisurely stroll uphill later, I was at the far fence. This yard seemed to directly border another yard.

The fence seemed so flimsy. Despite that, it was surprisingly difficult to get over, since it had no real structural integrity.

I peeked over the next fence only to see ... the street my house is on! Apparently, I wanted to start this journey from my front door after all.

Or did I? On my way towards my house, I took a right turn before I realized what I was doing and headed down some stairs into a neighbor's back yard. The path just seemed so perfect, I was compelled to follow it. I had often come over to this house when I was younger, but had never been into the back yard.

The barren yard gave way to a lush wall of plant life, which separated the yard I was in from the yard beyond.
I found a portal through the shrubbery that reminded me of part of an automated car wash.

I emerged from the shrubbery to find that I had backtracked yet again! I stood looking at the house whose porch I had walked under earlier.

I looked at the path I had forgone before, and saw that it had a pleasing, waterfall-like quality to it. I decided to cascade down it.

Turning right when I hit the next street, I soon noticed a large inviting driveway between two houses. Which house did the driveway belong to? There was only one way to find out. I pressed onward.

These discarded automotive parts provided little help in determining the owner of the driveway. However, the wall they were leaning against was an excellent clue.

I peered over, and the existence of a passage between these two driveways compelled me to cross the wall. I braced myself between the wall of the garage and this wall, and shimmied up until I could get a foot over.

The lot was barren, though surrounded by vegetation. I knew I could easily walk back out onto the street, but the experience of crossing the last wall made me long to cross another.

I noticed an even smaller portal to my left. I went for it.

I was rewarded on the other side with beautiful yellow flowers, and miniature fences commemorating my triumph. The tiny replica fences seemed to pay tribute to my fence-hopping accomplishments.

Turning away from the planter, I noticed a lofty-looking house on a hilltop, shrouded by trees. It's seclusion and visibility made it my next goal.

Another fence separated me from my destination. I walked towards it, preparing to climb and jump, when I noticed ... A DOOR? Clearly this was the path I was meant to take.

No sooner had I passed through the gate, when a chance glance left revealed two unidentifiable plants, posted like slalom poles. Everyone knows that slalom poles are meant to be skied through. Lacking skis. however, I made due with walking.

I spied a motorcyclist passing by on the street ahead, but I was much too far away to catch up with him. My eyes followed his trajectory as he passed out of view, however, and I saw a lofty balcony, framed by a bed of cactus.

This being the prettiest fence I had yet had the opportunity to jump, I quickly scrambled up the hillside and climbed onto the redwood porch it supported. There, I looked to my left and saw a roof, at a height that made it almost perfect to jump to from where I was standing. Almost perfect. I resolved to climb off the balcony and circle this new house until I could get onto the roof.

Walking around the side of the house revealed a beautiful cactus garden. At first glance, it seemed like typical landscaping. But another look revealed an unexpected denizen in the desert garden.

A polar bear! I gazed at the tiny creature lovingly, and then used the cactus garden as a stepping stone in order to reach the roof. I made it up without any difficulty. Once on the roof, my eyes were drawn to a pale blue car across the street.

I decided to make my way to it so that I could examine it up close, but first I needed to get off the roof.

Upon reaching the car, a forbidding "NOT A THROUGH STREET" sign glared at me like it was looking for a fight. I knew I couldn't be stopped by dead ends, and so I decided to take it up on its challenge. But as I got closer, I noticed a small In-N-Out decal pointing me further down the street. I resolved to put my pride aside and follow the arrow. You win this time, sign.

The first thing I saw when I turned and began walking down the street was the fence of a house I passed almost every day on my way to school. I realized I had never seen the actual house before, only the fence. That was about to change.

The sound of trickling water attracted me to a beautiful little pool in the middle of the yard. An oversized statue of a snail crawled along the rim, and the entire yard had a shady, secluded feel to it.

One thing stood out from the placid browns and greens of the yard, and that was an orange extension chord draped over a gate that - presumably - lead to the front yard. I tried to open the door, but it was padlocked shut from the outside! Once again, I had to hop a fence in order to progress.

I emerged from the greenery and saw two things that convinced me my journey was over: a beautiful church, and a stop sign.

Upon reaching the stop sign, I knew exactly where I was, and I stood in the middle of the street, happily waving at passing cars. Having photographed the stop sign with the last available picture on my memory card, I began my journey home. I checked my clock and found that I had been wandering for over two hours. I arrived home ten minutes later, and - since I had forgotten my keys when I left the house - had to hop my fence.

Conclusions, Thoughts, and Thrilling Deductions

As I hopped fences and scaled rooftops, a question nagged at me like a middle-aged wife in a sitcom. Why, I wondered, do people spend so much time walling off these expanses of nature that they rarely, if ever, use? I passed through almost 10 backyards, between 4:30 and 6:45, in the middle of summer. I passed lawn chairs, and fountains, and weather-worn tables, and never encountered a soul. I realized that I rarely spend time in my own yard, despite having a treehouse and a terraced garden to enjoy. I feel as if I have gained more from these sections of private property in a few hours, as an unwelcome visitor, than some people get out of them in a lifetime.

I was intrigued by the beautiful gardens I saw. I was delighted by homes and porches and the artifacts of lives I would never have otherwise been a part of. I was drawn to the things that people choose to keep in a space that is not quite public, but not quite private either. More than anything, I learned to explore the spaces in between streets. I filled in a few blocks on the impersonal grid that is my neighborhood. I stepped off of the paths I habitually follow, and I benefited greatly from it.

+ larger

About to begin
First fence
Dead End?
Hidden Treasures
Neat Junk
First Real Street
Sedimentary Wall
On da roof
Unexpected Path
Shady Hollow
Peering into the Yard
The far fence
Next yard
Unexpected Stairs
At the car wash
That car from before
Tantalizing Driveway
Yard Ho!
Concrete square
Another Opening
Pretty Flowers
A house in the distance
A gate!
The two twigs
Porch of Destiny
Un-Bear-Ably Adorable!
Tantalizing Roof
Up on the Rooftop
Off the Roof
A Telling Sign
A Chink in The Wall
Forbidden Pool
One More Fence
The Way-ve Down

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5 comment(s)

(no subject) +1
posted by Tac Haberdash on July 3rd, 2008 1:28 AM

tghanks hgaR4Ry.x i breaall6y gliked nyour dewrive too.

posted by susy derkins on July 3rd, 2008 9:00 AM

This was really moving: trespassing deserted gardens and giving them some life, polar bears and giant snails helping out, but still a feeling of things being something is really upside down. I totally loved the slalom poles and the story-filled low brick wall.

posted by Absurdum on July 4th, 2008 9:45 AM

That was excellent - like you I can't quite fathom why noone was outside using their gardens... I mean admittedly they looked pretty barren as gardens go, but still...

(no subject)
posted by Sparrows Fall on July 10th, 2008 7:09 AM

Great praxis, and a great observations about how people (don't) use their back yards.

(no subject)
posted by Pixie on June 21st, 2014 9:54 PM

You are missed